What You Need to Know about HIV and Aging

HIV attacks the body’s immune system. In young patients with a healthy immune system to start, the body can still fight the virus, preventing opportunistic infections and/or the progression of disease into Stage 3 (AIDS). However, as people age, immune system performance declines. For individuals with HIV, that means evolving treatments to more aggressively keep the disease at bay.

Additional Treatments

Aging HIV patients (typically age 45 and older) often require additional therapies, such as:

Antiretroviral therapy (ART)
For most people with HIV, ART is started as soon as there is a positive diagnosis. For aging patients, ART may require new combinations of antiretroviral agents, possibly in heavier doses.

Preventative therapies
As the risk of opportunistic infection rises with decreased immune performance, preventative therapies may be prescribed. Individuals with HIV living in areas with a higher prevalence of tuberculosis may require IPT. Other general preventative therapies may include probiotics and prescription-strength supplements.

Drug monitoring
The drug combinations in ART or between ART and other medications or supplements can potentially damage vital organs. Drug monitoring to ensure proper organ function may become a routine part of HIV treatment for aging individuals.

Every body ages differently, and every patient experiences HIV differently. It is important to see your treatment providers regularly and keep them informed about any changes in your health or concerns you have.

If you have questions about changing HIV treatments as you age, please contact UNM Truman Health Services.